The Public Spaces
Turning to the ship's public areas, on the Royal Promenade, “we added some new retail. We have Kate Spade and Michael Kors on the Promenade.”
“On the Boardwalk, we converted what used to be the Seafood Shack to Sabor, which is this new contemporary Mexican restaurant. It is doing very well, we have seen an increase in volume there. One of the key features there is the guacamole made table-side, which every one seems to love. That is pretty much a meal in itself.”
“We expanded Windjammer [the ship's buffet restaurant]. Up on Deck 16, it used to be Windjammer and on the port side Izumi. We took that Izumi space and we made it [part of] Windjammer because we needed additional seating up there.”
“Izumi is now on Deck 4 on the port side of the [main] dining room. With that change, we also introduced a hibachi concept. It is this interactive teppanyaki style cooking. It is very successful and really enhanced the Izumi concept.”
In anticipation of the introduction of Dynamic Dining on Oasis, the décor of its three-level dining room was changed. Each level was altered to look like one of the restaurants that premiered on Quantum of the Seas. However, when Quantum encountered difficulties and criticism of Dynamic Dining, plans to introduce it on Oasis were shelved.
“Since the Oasis was delivered five years ago, [the main dining room] has always been a combination of My Time and traditional. And for the foreseeable future, we are staying with that. Meanwhile, we have the newly themed décor. So what we are trying to do is incorporate different aspects of those three menus into our traditional dining menu. We have introduced that quite recently where each night, depending upon which deck that you are on, we are introducing a couple of specials to tie in with that theme be it Silk, Grande or American Icon.”
One restaurant idea borrowed from Quantum that has worked out very successfully on Oasis is the Coastal Kitchen. It occupies the starboard side of what had been the Viking Crown Lounge. The port side is now a lounge for suite guests and for Pinnacle members of the Crown and Anchor Society.
“Coastal Kitchen is this very exclusive top suites venue. The guests who are paying top dollar expect and are used to exclusive space and that is what it provides. [Exclusivity] has become an expectation. Certainly, a lot of hotels have exclusive suites, have the exclusive lounges and exclusive services. On here, it is easier said than done to differentiate space and to differentiate services. But at least for the past four years, we have been evolving our suite services to give them essentially what they expect.”
“We have this spectacular venue with a lounge. A lot of the services are complimentary. Part of buying a suite is the value added. Its got the right feel, it is a beautiful, beautiful room.”
“Coastal Kitchen [offers] breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fantastic menus. It had been one dinner menu throughout the week. We have now brought in a second menu. We have one menu for four days and have another menu for three days. It just gives guests more choices, more variety.”
Along the same lines, forward on Deck 17, Oasis has a sun deck for the exclusive use of top suite guests. “We have also introduced cabanas there as well. Now there are four cabanas where guests can go and relax in a very exclusive cabana style environment. Its another unique, exclusive aspect of the ship.”
Implementing the Coastal Kitchen concept required eliminating the much-loved but rarely used Viking Crown Lounge. “We have guests asking what happened to the Viking Crown. The Viking Crown, absolutely, a trademark Royal Caribbean venue. But from a hard, cold business point of view, it was not generating enough traffic there.”
Two changes were implemented coincident with Oasis re-entry into service after the drydock that were not a product of the drydock work itself.
First of these was the introduction of an internet offering that provides connectivity that is similar to that found on land. “We were the first ship to actually introduce O3B. We have been piloting this for the last couple of years, testing its capacity, its capability. When you talk about technology on a cruise ship, whatever the technology is, it will consistently behave differently than it does on land. We have learned that over the years, painfully, at times. So we wanted to make sure that we got this right. So it has been a lengthy testing but it is certainly one of the best introductions that we have made. We launched it officially when we came out of drydock.”
This move strengthened Royal's competitive position. “When you consider future cruisers, they will be looking more for connectivity than they will for Floriders and rock walls. And that goes for crew as well. We [will be] recruiting in the coming years many more thousands [as the ships now under construction enter service]. We can definitely become the employer of choice when a [prospective] crew member knows that we offer streaming internet connective capability.”
A second change was replacing the musical Hairspray with Cats as the ship's primary show. “I have been with the company for 14 years and I have seen a lot of shows but I think that Cats is up another level. Historically, we have had singers and we have had dancers. With this cast, they are all singers and all dancers. You see that visually, they are all beautifully synchronized. And you hear that vocally, you hear the power of 23 people singing. I saw the original in London and I don't remember it being any better than this.”
What is the cruise experience like on Oasis after all of these changes?
“I think this is the most spectacular piece of hardware in the industry. I hear that time and time again from guests who have cruised multiple companies, multiple brands. This ship is a miracle of engineering and design.”
“I think the experience on here is about choices. Is it going to be the most intimate experience? No. But is it an experience that is chockablock full of activities, experiences and entertainment? Absolutely. I think you'll go a long way if you could find anything that offers as much flexibility.”
“The value for money, you can't compare it. If you took a seven day vacation on land and you were staying in hotels, going to restaurants, going to shows, first of all, for anything comparable in terms of quality, I believe it would cost you significantly more money, at least three times more. And I think that the consistency would be very hit and miss whereas I think here it is very consistent.”
“Obviously, there are many moving parts There are many thousands of interactions with the crew and with the ship. Is it 100 percent prefect, no. But do we listen, do we try and fix things, do we constantly look to see how we can improve that experience - - 100 percent.”
Cruise ship interview - Royal Caribbean International - Oasis of the Seas - Hotel Director - page 2